Although axons in the peripheral nervous system can regenerate, functional recovery after nerve injuries is poor. Activity-based therapies, such as exercise and electrical stimulation, enhance the regeneration of cut peripheral axons. Despite their effectiveness, clinical application of these experimental techniques has been limited. At least part of the basis for this translational barrier has been a lack of information as to the precise mechanism of activity-based therapies on peripheral axon regeneration. To evaluate the requirements for neuron-type specific activation to promote regeneration using these therapies, in the current protocol, we employed optogenetics. Utilizing the advantages of transgenic mouse lines we targeted opsin expression to different neuron types. Using fiber optics we activated those neurons with high temporal specificity as a model of activity-based intervention after nerve injury and to measure functional recovery achieved after such a treatment.
Keywords: Channelrhodopsin; Motoneurons; Optogenetics; Peripheral nerve injury; Sciatic nerve; Sensory neurons.